What do your family vacations look like? I would love to see how you travel with your family. How long are your trips, where do you usually go? Do you fly or drive? Stay in a resort, all inclusive, vacation rental? There is no right way to travel with your family. The main thing is just to have fun, cherish each moment as if it’s the last, and make amazing memories.
Our family vacations are a huge part of our life and our lifestyle. Travelling is what we save for. We don’t often go on a trip that is shorter than two weeks long, but usually are about a month at a time. Since having kids, we have been to Hawaii three times, which was a great way to get your feet wet with travel but still feel safe as there aren’t tons of snakes or bugs that can hurt your little one.
We went backpacking once with our 18 month old through Costa Rica. We had all our clothes in one backpack, which B usually carried and ‘Anela on my back! It was fun, amazing, exciting, full of culture, and best of all it was safe! We stayed in hostels and vacation rentals as we traveled around the country! Since then we have been back to Costa Rica 4 more times and have even bought a small cozy condo that we love and use as our second home and also as an Airbnb rental to share our slice of paradise with others (https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/15999121
). The kids love the pool and socializing with other vacationers, which consist of both English and Spanish speaking kids and adults! What a lovely way to be exposed to language and culture while feeling safe and having fun!
We go on at least one two week road trip each year from Alberta to Manitoba. We previously would pull our small 16 ft trailer with us and camp along the way. This round trip is usually about 3400 km from start to finish, which seems like a lot. But when you think of us travelling all the way to Costa Rica and back this fall and winter via our motorhome, that is just a little taste of what is to come.
So after buying our future home on wheels, we decided we would do a test run with it to Manitoba and back. We left at the end of June and returned back home 14 days later. We can say that after the trial trip in the motorhome, we are so excited for the adventures to come as we will travel south! We determined we had way too much with us! Not because we were crowded but because we didn’t use a lot of it! We don’t need a gas lantern. We have lights in the motorhome and flashlights/headlights that will function much better than a gas lantern for example. We do not need the ladder for the kids to get up to their bunk! They are little monkeys and climb up no problem sans ladder. We do not need to hoard a whole bunch of food with us. Realistically, we will be moving every couple days so do not need two weeks worth of food. Fresh is better and the less food we will have in the motorhome, the less likely we will have issues with ants and bugs! Who wants ants in their pants, right?
The 5 things we would highly recommend on a road trip in a motorhome or camping with little ones, no matter how far you go are the following:
1) Good headlamps for every walking individual. It is so great to be hands free when out walking at night, especially if there is the potential to have to carry your little one! The LED lights in headlamps last so long you will not likely have to buy batteries for your whole trip (unless you are going for month on end). They are bright and good for illuminating all those roots and things you could break an ankle on! I know I do not want to be breaking an ankle while on a trip!
2) Clothing for all weather! We are choosing to not take heavy coats (even though it gets quite cool in the mountains in Mexico and Guatemala) because it is more functional to dress in layers. This can also be applied here in Canada in the summer months. So we are taking a base layer, T-shirts, tank tops, long sleeved shirts, a couple sweaters each and a water proof coat. We will have shorts, pants, rain pants, flip flops, hiking shoes, water shoes and rubber boots. This way we can have multiple options for dressing according to the weather and as it warms up through the day you can shed layers or add them on as it cools in the evening. Oh and you can’t forget multiple bathing suits! That is is definite must in our family!
3) Coloring books, activity books, DVD player, educational games, etc that are small and the kids can play with and be entertained with while you drive. Because ‘Anela and Felix are still rear facing at 5 years and 2 years old, they need to be able to entertain themselves in the back while buckled. Yes they watch more movies than I like when we drive for 8-14 hours in a day but when we drive that far in a day, it is imperative to have happy, content kids. Have you heard the saying “a happy wife is a happy life?” Well we live by “happy kids make happy campers”. As we will be homeschooling on the road, activity books and educational games are a must have for us! ‘Anela is very self motivated and is happy to sit and work on activity books, so what better time than when doing a long drive. Learn, pass the time and make more time for fun and games when you are stopped! Win win!!
4) Patching equipment and tool kit. We just had a huge hail storm roll through Alberta and our vent in the bathroom was smashed! Not just cracked but totally gone. So we discovered that a tarp, bungees, zip ties, rope, duct tape are some of the things that can help cover, repair and do a quick fix if you have something break, leak, crack, etc. This would not have made my must have list before last week but just watching the water come in the roof vent and soak the bathroom with rain water really opened my eyes as to how necessary some fixing gear is for trailers, motorhomes and even tents! Good thing we already had most of this equipment in the motorhome!
5) The last must that B and I think you should know about isn’t something to bring but to do! Make sure you take those detours off the main drag to check out a hidden gem. Yes, it might be a few extra minutes of driving but you never know what you will find just a few km off the highway. It makes me think of the time in Australia when our vehicle was overheating, we hadn’t showered in 4 days and we needed to find a spot to stop quick. So we turned off the highway and found this gem of a park with picnic tables, beautiful views, and sprinklers! Yes sprinklers! We were over the moon to see fresh water so we cooled down in the sprinklers and…wait for it…we even washed our hair (with all biodegradable, organic, eco-friendly soap of course) in it! This is one of our fondest memories of Australia and one we speak of often as it was spontaneous and turned out to be a lot of laughs, and memories! Some of the best memories we have made as a family are from places that were spontaneous stops and unplanned! Another great place in Canada we have found are the splash parks between Alberta and Manitoba! Moose Jaw and Swift Current have become a favourite of ours for splash park stops for the kids to get out of their car seats and we BBQ while they play! What are some of your fondest spontaneous, unplanned stop spots?
If you are a planned trip type of family, we would like to challenge you to do a spontaneous stop or turn off the main road to see what hidden gems you find! Then share them with us! We love nothing more than hearing of your family experiences and memories being made. These memories and experiences are what will shape us and our little humans to be well rounded individuals who can cope with veering away from the normal route and schedule. Because let’s be honest, life doesn’t always go as planned.